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Home > Books > The Art of Archery > Chapter I: Concerning the Nature of Wood for Bows
First Chapter.
Concerning the Nature of Wood for Making Bows

As the first part of this treatise deals with the bow, you must know that there are three things in a bow, the wood, the shape, and the horns. First of all, bows can be made of any wood, but the best are of yew. Respecting this, Petrus de Crescens says, that yew is only useful for making bows and crossbows, and that there are two sorts of it, the white and the red. The white is called Portuguese yew, and it is usually soft and of open grain. And the more open the grain of a wood is, the softer it naturally is. On the other hand the redder yew is called Italian yew. This is found of straighter grain than any other, and has a sharper cast, and there is no comparison in the time it retains its strength. However, it is harder to work, and to string at first, and breaks more easily than the white Portuguese yew. Now if you want to know the best points of a bow, look at its sides and see if the grain is close and long, and if you find it so, you may be certain that that wood is very good and fitted for long distance shooting, which I shall hereafter, at the proper time and place, explain to you. Nevertheless, I have formerly seen very long shots made with bows of whitethorn and also of seshus,[3] but only for one shot, notwithstanding that whitethorn and seshus are of entirely different natures. But after one or two shots have been made they become more and more sluggish. The other bows, made of yew, are very good for butt shooting, as I shall show and explain at greater length in the next and following chapter.